The Crailsheim Connection

The idea of sorting through all the stuff on my desk isn’t nearly as appealing as daydreaming about the wonderful vacation from which I have just returned.

Hubby Bryan and I spent a whirlwind 10 days in Germany – with a short foray into Austria. It’s a trip that we’d been pondering for quite some time, inspired by the wonderful connections our family has made there over the years. After talking wistfully about it as a far-off future possibility, we finally decided to just do it. And are we ever glad we did.

I will do more of a travelogue piece in the future, and I definitely have a few more blogs floating around in my head.

But I must pause for a moment and reflect on the origins of our trek – Worthington’s sister-city relationship with Crailsheim, Germany, which I believe is celebrating a milestone 65 years. A young girl’s post-World War II project to send shoes to her pen-pal in Finland inspired our community to befriend a city of similar size in a country that had very recently been Enemy No. 1.

The relationship wasn’t without controversy – I recently read that a significant number of Americans were injured or killed in a battle that took place near Crailsheim – and some residents objected to sending food and clothing to such recent enemies. But somehow such obstacles were overcome.

My parents – newlyweds at the time – participated in sending donated goods over to the war-torn city of Crailsheim, putting their names and addresses in the pockets of the clothing they sent. Soon, they heard back from a doctor and his wife, who sent a small photo book that detailed their town’s destruction, along with sincere thanks for the items they received. Years later, Mom and Dad would have the opportunity to meet the Kreisels on a trip to Crailsheim.

Our hostess for much of our stay was my German sister Heidi Pontin-Kirn, an exchange student from Crailsheim who lived with my family in 1969, when I was just 6 years old. I hadn’t seen Heidi for more than 30 years, and she did not know Bryan at all, but she insisted that we stay at her small apartment, showed us around Munich and drove us down to Crailsheim. She is still my big sister, and I am still her little sister, despite the miles and years.

In Crailsheim, we were treated royally at the local hotel and renewed friendships that were begun during the first high school choir exchange in 1980-1981. From there, we went to the nearby village of Rot Am See, where we were hosted by the Zobel family – a friendship started when Andy Zobel came to Worthington as part of Crailsheim’s Burgerwache Band.

So our trip was very much influenced by a little girl who decided to collect some shoes 65 years ago. The ties that bind our hearts to Crailsheim are strong and deep.

 

 

 

 

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